Knowledge, Ignorance and India

Knowledge

No knowledge comes from an imaginary supernatural paradise or from some imaginary divine entity. All knowledge, scientific or philosophical, ancient or modern, rises from the human mind. These minds are by all means just as human as any other person on earth. But rigorous training on the self puts them at a higher level of mental functioning than the general population. However, this height of excellence has its own peer-less purpose. At this level, we thinkers hail ourselves to be the servant of humanity. And this trend of servitude goes back not decades or even centuries, rather thousands of years. In every age, there are these individuals upon the shoulders of whom the entire human civilization progresses.

Like any other person, we the scientists and philosophers, are ordinary human beings –

all of us are humans, not gods or divine incarnations.

And all the work we do – all the scientific and philosophical literatures we create, we do so by the use of our very natural human faculties, which have evolved in us, that is in all humanity, through the natural process of evolution. All the knowledge and wisdom that we give to the species are constructed by the biological circuits of our brain, and not by some sort of deity. And the same goes to the knowledge that the ancient thinkers of India and some other civilizations came up with. All their knowledge that later were compiled into organized textual scriptures of early humanity, were their creation, and not of some imaginary Gods.

However, think about this.

If I say that my insight of the human mind came not from my own brain through rigorous nourishment and utilization of my intellectual faculties, rather from the Lord Almighty – say Brahma, it is more likely for the vulnerable masses with no scientific awareness whatsoever to embrace my knowledge as divine will. They would embrace the texts created by me as irrefutable holy books. They would submit to my every single word at a deep emotional level and hail those words as eternal knowledge, even if I intentionally put some negative elements in those texts to serve my own personal interest and not the interest of the society or the pursuit of truth.

And this is exactly what happened to the ancient texts of the Vedas. They say the Vedas are eternal – the knowledge within it came not from the mind of man, but from the so-called Brahma himself. It’s like saying, you were not born from physical intimacy between your parents, rather, they only prayed for a child to their kuldevata (family deity) and you magically appeared out of thin air.

Imagine the ancient society of India a few thousand years ago, when rational thinking was quite scarce and ignorance was the default mode of thinking. Only a handful of individuals were capable of higher intellectual thinking. Among them were Vyasa, Susruta, Charaka, Aryabhatta, Vatsayana, Patanjali, Brahmagupta and a few others. These people were the real scientists and philosophers of ancient India. They were neither gods, nor angels, or some divine beings. They were just ordinary flesh and blood human beings, who happened to be exceptionally brilliant.

These great minds despite being born in a superstitious society, were able to break free from prejudices and ignorance. Unfortunately, over time, their scientific contribution started to get overlooked by their own people. Later generations of India began to hail them as some divine beings with supernatural powers, and thus emerged the term “rishi”. Even though the term technically means a profoundly wise person, today people abuse it in the worst manner possible.

Rishis are present in all times, as it refers to any ordinary human who possesses extraordinary expertise in his or her field of work. There is no supernatural element involved in it. In the ancient times, India was full with such brilliant minds. And in the hands of some of those individuals, we received the texts called the Vedas.

The term “Veda” means knowledge, and even though the primitive, superstitious part of the human mind that has a knack for paranormal stuff, would very much like to believe that what we call the Vedas, came from the mouth of Brahma – that, they are “Apauruseya” (meaning ‘not of man’ or ‘authorless’) – in reality, they came from the mind of some ancient Indians, just like “Republic” came from Plato, “The Art of War” from Sun Tzu, “On the Origin of Species” from Charles Darwin, “A Brief History of Time” from Stephen Hawking, “What is Mind?” from Naskar, “Capital” from Karl Marx and so on.

Greed of hierarchically higher people always drives them to incorporate imaginary divine intervention into human creations, so that through these creations, they can have authority over the people and manipulate them. Hence from the primitive urge for authority rises the need to attach the term “Apauruseya” to the Vedas.

Now the most important feature of the ancient Indian texts is that in most of them their authors talked about rationality in a society where everyone else was talking about demons, gods, ghosts and witches. Even when they were surrounded by ignorance, going quite against their society, they nourished their intellect and made it so strong and pure that it gave rise to some of the most glorious works in human history.

All the texts by ancient Indians, can become a great tool in the path of humanity’s progress, only if their adjacent primordial fanaticism is torn apart. Today you know that “Rahu” and “Ketu” were imaginations of the ignorant mind in an unqualified attempt to explain the phenomenon of eclipse – you know how positions of the sun, earth and moon occasionally give rise to solar and lunar eclipses. Likewise,

one after another you must destroy all the prejudicial idiocies from your society and only then the beneficial ideas of ancient Indians can be an aid to humanity.

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Abhijit Naskar

Author: Abhijit Naskar

Abhijit Naskar is one of the world’s celebrated Neuroscientists, an International Bestselling Author of many books and an untiring advocate of mental wellness and global harmony. He has revealed to the world with his contributions in Science how the basic awareness of the brain can completely redefine our perception of life and make our daily life much more cheerful.